Life, Death, & the Uncertainty of It All

(I wrote this after a car accident took 2 young lives and severely injured a third. When something tragic happens in a small community everyone is affected and this accident was no different. Life is short and it is a precious gift. I pray this reminder might stir someone to think more about their life and strive to live it to the fullest.)

Average life expectancy is somewhere in the 70’s, with women usually living longer than men. This number has increased since the 1900’s, thanks to advancements in medicine and a better knowledge of diseases. But there is one thing to always remember when you hear about “life expectancy” – no one knows how long they will live. There is no guarantee that you will reach the age of 70, or even 10. Life is a gift, not a guarantee.

The ultimate authority on life is God, since He created it and everything, and He never told us we were guaranteed a certain number of days. In fact, in James 4:14, we read the exact opposite. “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” We are a mist and mists do not last long. So instead of assuming we will live to retirement in a nursing home, we need to live each day to its fullest. Do not assume you have tomorrow, because tomorrow has never been promised!

Life is a gift. Eternal life is a promise. “And this is what he (God) promised us – even eternal life.” (1 John 2:25) When a young person dies, it is easy to start blaming or questioning God. How can a loving God allow this to happen? Why didn’t God save them? What kind of God would allow such a young person to be taken from this world? Why…? These questions are understandable, but I believe they are also misguided.

I believe “bad stuff” happens because there is sin in the world, not because God is not all-loving. Nor is God surprised by a sudden and tragic death. Often, after a tragic death people wonder, “Where was God when _________ died?” God was in the same place He was when His Son died.* Although God wants the best for us and loves us more than we can imagine, He will not intervene into a situation just to save us from pain and suffering. Instead, He provides us with two things that are so much better. First, God offers us a peace that passes understanding- “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) Second, He offers us eternal life with Him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

These two options are far better than anything we could ever come up with. With the promise of eternal life with God and a peace beyond understanding, you can make it through each day and experience joy, even when something awful and uncomprehensible happens. It does not mean you will understand or that you will not hurt. It only means that when we trust in God and lean on Him for guidance, He will give us comfort.

Knowing the days of our life are numbered, and God is the only One who knows that number, should cause us to determine to live each day as if it might be our last. Each day is a gift, not a promise. Every morning you wake up, thank God that you woke up with breath in your lungs. Every night when you go to bed, thank God for the day of life He gave you. When you practice this simple habit, you will start to move away from the tendency to take life for granted.

* I first heard this while reading an article Mike Yaconelli wrote for Youthworker Journal entitled “I Don’t Know” (Nov. 2001). In the article he attributes the thought to Leslie Weatherhead, a minister in London during the Second World War.


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